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Posts posted by Quicken

  1. Only 12 3 bed houses within a mile of my current postcode (North Oxford).

    Cheapest semi is £365k (reduced from £395k in Nov).


    For the same price, you can alternatively get this rather strange-looking end-of-terrace:


    Most expensive is £965k:


    Total lunacy. No way I can buy in this area.

    Expanding to look at the whole of Oxford, the cheapest one is £157k (down from £200k, and cash only with no internal pictures - must have problems!):




  2. Great letter - it is as if the blow up of the bubble never happened and they have no perspective of the debt build up that created this mess and hung shit banks round the taxpayer neck. They want to ignore this fact and not mention it - they must have some reasons for this and it is either bias to support theit own staffer's financial positions or those of others who are waggling their vocal chords. Time to scrap any tax raising powers of this impartial mob.

    Thanks. Yes, the reality distortion field is strong. The nice thing is that the BBC is required to be impartial so a complaint to them should have more leverage than to one of the daily papers. A concerted lobbying campaign by HPCers could be effective I think.


  3. Just complained to the BBC on the lkink provided above. Don't expect anything other than a standard for response (I have asked for a reply, and I understand that they have to give some form of reply). Complaint was as follows about this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11804832

    > 20 word summary of complaint: Bias in favour of commercial interests at the expense the general public interest

    Full complaint:

    There has been a huge amount of lobbying in general on the part of mortgage brokers and banking groups (the CML in particular) against plans by the FSA to regulate the mortgage market. These plans to regulate are entirely necessary. However, numerous articles similar to the one complained of give a one-sided view in favour of the banks and mortgage brokers, and they appear to have been written based on press releases, not any attempt at journalism.

    For example this quote: "For first time buyers, many who could easily afford the monthly payments on a mortgage are prevented from buying because deposits are so high, he added." This is very selective, and does not take into account that interest rates are lower than they have ever been, and that if rates were to rise, those same people would not be able to afford their repayments. This is sensible, but nowhere is this mentioned in the article.

    Also, this quote was problematic: "The lenders warn that this tougher regime would have prevented half of recent borrowers from getting a mortgage." Widely published FSA research has shown that arounf 45% of mortgage borrowers have no money left at the end of the month after basic mortgage and household bills have been paid. So, basicaly, almost half of borrowers should not have been granted mortgages of the size offered in recent years - such mortgages were risky, and only served to make the cost of living for everyone higher.

    I am a potential first time buyer, and the FSA proposals to restrict lending are good for me. If lending is restricted prices will come down. Cheaper living costs are a good thing. High house prices are bad. It is as simple as that.

    The main people who stand to lose from the FSA proposals are mortgage brokers, who stand to lose a lot of business. In continuing to print their press releases as news stories, the BBC is furthering a commercial interest which is completely opposed to the public interest.

    Good work. Here is my complaint to the same article:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    There are at least two specific areas of bias in this article. First, the assertion that "For first time buyers, many who could easily afford the monthly payments on a mortgage are prevented from buying because deposits are so high" neglects to mention that the supposed affordability is contingent on historically minimal interest rates. For balance, statements regarding mortgage affordabilty should always include a consideration of how affordability will be affected when interest rates return to historically normal levels (say 5%). Second, the article uncritically relays this industry propaganda: "The lenders warn that this tougher regime would have prevented half of recent borrowers from getting a mortgage." Here, balance requires at least the acknowledgement that the FSA disputes these figures. For example, "Another myth in the mass market is the conclusion that 50% of borrowers who would have previously got a mortgage will not get a loan if the MMR is implemented. Our data does not bear that out at all - we have never disputed that our decisions and rules, particularly those on affordability, will have an impact on the availability of mortgages in the market. But that impact may be that instead of getting a loan of £100,000, borrowers get one of £95,000 or £90,000." http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Library/Communication/Speeches/2010/1118_sn.shtml

    Given that the 'credit crunch' was triggered by excessive, loose credit in the mortgage market, the requirement for proper regulation of that market is clear and urgent. To its credit, the FSA now recognises the failure of 'self-regulation' prior to the crisis and is proposing some entirely sensible regulations to protect consumers and curb the excesses of the property market in the future through the Mortgage Market Review (MMR).

    There has recently been a concerted, cynical and dishonest lobbying campaign against the FSA Mortgage Market Review proposals. This campaign is being perpetrated by commercial interests including banking groups such as the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), mortgage brokers (as represented frequently by Ray Boulger of Charcol), and estate agents (e.g. the NAEA). These commercial groups represent their own vested interests and not the interests of the british public. Numerous articles similar to the one I am complaining about here give a one-sided view in favour of the banks and mortgage brokers, and they appear to have been written based on press releases, not any attempt at journalism.

    As a prospective first time buyer from the priced out generation, I strongly support the Mortgage Market Review proposals. First time buyers will always benefit more from reduced housing costs then loose lending. It is irresponsible to suggest otherwise.


  4. Look behind the numbers:

    Employment is 210,000 lower than two years previously.

    Self-employmentincreased by 112,000 on the quarter to reach a record high of 4.03 million

    Part-time employees increased by 94,000 on the quarter to reach 6.76 million.

    The number of full-time employees fell by 62,000 on the quarter to reach 18.17 million.

    The number of employees and self-employed people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 67,000 on the quarter, to reach a record high of 1.15 million.

    The number of vacancies for the three months to October 2010 was 453,000, down 27,000 over the quarter.

    Real unemployment is way above 10%, just like EU, US etc

    There is something here I am curious about. Just doing the maths on quarterly changes in numbers employed, I make it (in thousands):

    112+94-62 = 144k up overall. OK, but they report +167k overall, so where does the extra 23k come from? Am I missing something obvious?


  5. I'm 33 and on just over 30k (1800 take-home), in Oxford. I chopped and changed between degree courses a bit, and ended up spending most of my 20s as a student (not a brilliant move financially). I didn't pay much attention to property prices as a student. I lived in house shares with friends throughout and lived frugally, never accumulating much debt. I feel so sorry for the current crop of teenagers who will be saddled with huge debts after a basic undergraduate degree.

    Started full time employment doing research at Oxford University in spring 2007, on roughly the same wage as now, and started thinking about saving for a deposit (great timing I know). Saved 5k a year for the first three, while living with long term girlfriend (also an academic and on a bit more than me) in rented accommodation outside of the city (flat then house). Dismayed at the cost of housing in Oxon.

    We broke up in the spring (and not being able to afford a decent house certainly played a major part there). I started looking for a place closer to work in Oxford and considered buying a flat while starting to read up on property. Discovered HPC (thank goodness), and decided to continue in rent-and-save mode believing that the worst that could happen is a flat market, while I turn my 10% deposit into 25.

    Currently renting a studio flat in a nice part of Oxford, where I couldn't afford to buy even with a 50% crash, and saving twice as hard as before. Paid off the last 5k of student loans in the last six months (to avoid the interest rate ramp from -0.4% to over 4% in October), so I am finally debt free and saving at a rate of 10k/year. Still don't think that's good enough, so I have started teaching on the side and am trying for a college position. I won't have my target 25% deposit until 2012 at the earliest, and that is assuming a decent fall in prices between now and then. Patiently waiting...


  6. I just read this speech on the FSA website. It is dated 20th October, but I couldn't see it having been picked up by HPC so I thought I would post a link here.

    My link

    Very sensible material delivered by Lynda Blackwell, Mortgage Policy Manager, FSA at the Building Societies Association Annual Mortgage Seminar. Here are some choice passages.

    We believe that a robust and effective assessment of individual affordability has to underpin any sustainable lending model. When developing the current regime, we assumed that lenders would have a prudential self-interest to manage their credit risk responsibly and, therefore, prescriptive conduct requirements were not required. That has been shown to be a mistake and we are therefore proposing to be much more explicit about the standards we expect.
    We have been surprised that our proposals have proved so controversial. We think that much of what we are proposing already exists – or existed – within firms. No doubt this is why many have characterised the proposals as simply marking a return to ‘sensible underwriting’ and common sense.

    But others obviously feel very differently.

    So what are the issues?

    Discussions we have had with many firms have centred mainly on interest-only, which has caused much heat – although we have not yet consulted on our proposals! I think there has been a lot of unhelpful speculation about this.

    Our proposals will be included in our November Consultation Paper (CP) and we will be very happy to continue the dialogue with you before finalising our approach.

    Verifying income for the self-employed or those with irregular income also seems to be a particular issue for some of the bigger firms. But the self-employed and those with irregular income can still prove how much they earn – it may take them a little bit longer to get a mortgage but it doesn’t mean that they can’t get one. Some of the bigger firms have told us that making a basic lending decision about affordability in these cases is all going to be too difficult and risky and therefore they’d rather pull out than service the less straightforward consumer. So they were happy to self-certify – but not assess affordability properly.

    We are doing some supervisory work on forbearance strategies and, as well as the issue about an increased use of capitalisation, that has raised concerns about some of the other strategies being used, for example:

    * we are seeing the use of a switch to interest-only, followed by capitalisation of arrears after (perhaps as few as) three monthly payments at the new lower payment rate and no recovery of past, accumulated arrears; and

    * we are also seeing the extension of the payment term into retirement without adequate consideration of the borrower’s ability to make payments of interest and eventual capital repayment in retirement.

    With house prices expected to show further falls, unemployment expected to rise, and possibly some rise in interest rates to come, it is not clear that some of these initiatives are in the long-term interests of either party.

    I look forward to the November Consultation Paper,


  7. Local authority area Percentage of workforce employed in the public sector - Oxford 46%

    What proportion of that percentage / number work for Oxford University in one of the following areas (from the university website)?

    Academic - professorships and lecturerships; Academic-related - professional administration and general management, including specialisms such as finance and personnel, press and PR and qualified librarians; Research - research fellows and assistants, scientists, programmers, engineers; Technicians - scientific and maintenance technicians, IT support, conservators, scientific officers, technical posts within clinical departments; Nurses - all nursing posts within clinical departments; Clerical and Library - library assistants, secretaries, receptionists, finance assistants, general clerical and admin staff, administrative support posts within clinical departments; Parks, Gardens and Ancillary - gardeners, sports grounds staff, museum attendants, skilled and unskilled maintenance staff, security staff, caretakers, porters, cleaners and catering assistants; College Vacancies - the colleges at Oxford University advertise their jobs separately.

    And how many jobs is the university going to axe, I wonder?

    I really don't think Oxford is going to suffer all that much.

    Well, I looked into this recently, and here is some of what I have found so far:

    Economic Statistics page from oxford city council:


    Top 100 employers (Jan 2010):


    Labour market profile from the Office for National Statistics (has stats for each local authority):


    The county council has announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs

    http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/8468528.Unions_warn_of_strikes_over_public_sector_job_cuts/by 2015.



  8. For me the cap is ideologically but not economically vital. The big deal is the median to 30th percentile shift and I would be much more upset if they U-turn on that. For that reason I am somewhat reassured to read the word 'all' in Cameron's statements as reported in the Guardian article linked above:

    "We are going forward with all the proposals we put in the spending review and the budget," he told the Commons.

    I sent the following to Adrian Sanders after reading in a BBC article that he was one of the Lib Dems Lobbying against the housing benefit changes:

    Dear Adrian,

    After reading of your stance on proposed housing benefit reform, I am writing to ask you to reconsider you position. I am a professional, 33 year old member of the ‘priced-out’ generation in the South East (specifically Oxford, where the average house price is around £300,000). Earning roughly one tenth of that, I am unable to buy and do not qualify for any benefits.

    While the absolute cap on housing benefit will largely affect certain post-codes in London (where I could neither afford to rent or buy), the move from median to 30th percentile will have an overwhelmingly positive impact across the country.

    As I see it, the current policy of setting housing benefit at the median of the local private rental market rate has major problems. These include:

    1) It places housing benefit recipients in direct competition with non-benefit recipients in the private rental market, which is both unfair to those not in receipt of benefits, and provides a disincentive for people in receipt of housing benefit to work or attempt to earn more.

    2) By guaranteeing the level of rent a landlord can receive from the state at whatever is the current median value, the policy has the effect of placing a state-supported floor under local rental prices and thereby driving up rental costs for everyone. This benefits nobody except landlords.

    3) By inflating rental pricing, the policy encourages further speculation in the buy-to-let market which further inflates property prices already out of reach of unsupported first-time-buyers.

    Lowering the housing benefit level to the 30th percentile will at least help to prevent damaging rental cost inflation and should reduce rental prices for everyone. How is this a bad thing?

    Perhaps I should send something similar to Simon Hughs...


  9. In relation to this, the front page headline in last week's Oxford Times was:

    "University has a £1bn vision to transform area of city"

    detailing the plans to redevelop the Oxford University science area, including the largest Chemistry department in Europe (£165m, 600 construction jobs), a new Physics department etc. etc.

    This is on top of the existing £600m redevelopment of the Radcliffe Infirmary site.


    Almost 50,000 people in Oxford work in the public sector, representing almost half of the total workforce, the highest proportion in the UK.

    The education sector in the city is particularly important, accounting for almost 20 per cent of jobs in the city.

    But it appears that Oxford University will buck the trend of cutting back on investment in the public sector by setting out its masterplan to redevelop what is termed the South Parks-Keble Science Triangle, near the University Parks.

    Oxford Brookes is also trying to push forward with a £132m Campus development, but faces a legal challenge to the plans:


    These big construction projects are likely to run for years. On the other hand, they might not get started for years... ;)


  10. Here come the girls falls.

    I can live without coffee, I can live without Tea!

    And I'm livid about the honeybee!

    I'm not a fillet steak,

    I can leave or take,

    But the Falls are part of me!

    And ohhh water!

    I don't need no lemonade!

    But to live without Falls,

    I can't live without Falls,

    It's like a man with a hole in his head!

    Here come the Falls!

    Here come the Falls!

    Here come the Falls! (Falls, Falls, Falls-Falls)

    Here come the Falls! (Falls, Falls, Falls-Falls)


  11. I emailed the bloke running the save our savers campaign.

    He said if he had more supporters they could organise a en-mass bank withdrawl/protest to make them take notice.

    I've signed up as a member.

    Anyone else care to.

    It's time the bankers stopped theiving from ther rest of us.

    This is exactly what I was thinking on the way to work this morning. I signed up as a member to Save Our Savers a few weeks ago, and I agree that savers need to get more organised as a pressure group or we will be ignored. Personally, I shifted most of my savings into NS&I index-linked in spring. This was partly a message to my previous ISA providers and partly on the assumption that the government/BoE would keep RPI at around 5 percent for the next year. They are on target so far...

    Now, since the index-linked certificates have been withdrawn, I agree with tochinoki that moving money from a bank to a mutual would send a message. Perhaps that is what Save Our Savers could suggest.


  12. Just like to point out that my wife has not had an incremental or inflationary pay rise for 3 years in her scientific research public sector job - with another 2 year freeze (increments AND inflation element).

    Oh and her inflationary element in the 9 years she has now worked there has never exceeded 1% - that's right 1%.

    In the same time in the private sector I've increased my fees by around 5-10% per annum.

    Confirmed. The 2 year pay freeze at my workplace (public sector scientific institution) is complete - inflation adjustments and increments.


  13. I've always thought paying the mortgage interest was pretty fair, analogous to paying rent through housing benefit, but I know not everyone agrees

    You can't get housing benefit if you have savings over £16K, which means you cannot save for a deposit while on housing benefit. So to be fair, you shouldn't be able to get mortgage assistance unless your housing equity value is less than £16K.


  14. Much more practical suggestion would be to level capital gains tax on UK non residents if they make a gain on any UK property (like Australia) and clam down on stamp duty avoidance scams but having houses owned by overseas companies.

    Your suggestion wouldn't work as you can become R for one year then buy and then change your status.

    Even if you come up with a good idea what are you going to do with it?????

    Hi grizzly bear,

    Your suggestion sounds sensible, but I am not convinced mine is unworkable. Residence may change annually, but ordinary residence is calculated over several years (see the link in my previous reply). Furthermore, I am not talking about buying property, but owning it, i.e. if residency status changes, then the property must be sold.

    I'm in contact with my MP (con), so I could pitch it to him.



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